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About ESPERA Funds

A New Model for Community Lending

ESPERA Funds are community lending pools for women. We work with emerging or existing women’s networks. The women own and manage the fund. The money does not return to Mary’s Pence. It will be used by the women now and into the future.



                    Photos by Kelly Creedon


The Wisdom of Local Women

Each ESPERA Fund is designed by the women involved to best meet their needs. This is a very important statement. We believe in the wisdom of local women. They understand the issues that they face in their every day lives, and they know their needs best.

All ESPERA Funds have these things in common:

  • A woman’s network owns each fund and reaps the benefits.
  • The women manage the fund, setting interest and terms.
  • These loans are used for income-generating projects.

Yet each fund is designed to meet the needs of the women involved:

  • The ESPERA Fund in Nicaragua includes the western region of the country; most others are focused on a city or state.
  • Some funds have a paid coordinator and others work with a volunteer coordinator and a board.
  • Interest rates and terms on loans vary, and are set by the local women.

ESPERA Fund Results

A typical ESPERA Fund does the following:

  • Creates 20-40 loans per year, impacting up to 160 women, fostering business enterprises.
  • Supports a fund coordinator who works to equip women with the skills they need to participate in the market.
  • Strengthens the network and partnerships among women, nurturing dreams and expanding opportunities.
  • Is self-sustaining, with administrative costs funded through interest on loans.

Mary’s Pence supports each network with start up and administrative costs during the first year. Each network has the support of a Mary's Pence Fund Facilitator who visits the women between 2 and 4 times per year.

The Story of One ESPERA Fund

Concertación de Mujeres de Suchitoto, El Salvador


One Woman’s Story – Edica Ramirez

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